Jean Luc De Myer's latest non-Front 242 outlet 32 Crash were the draw tonight, but I'd heard good things about support Warren Suicide too.
Opening act System:FX do traditional 90s industrial. The sound was a jumble of influences, rarely blending into anything convincing in its own right. Vocals were a yawn - a clear case of enthusiasm over ability, but, somehow, I couldn't dislike these guys. Perhaps it was their energy and that enthusiasm. It took them a couple of songs to settle in but the delivery was pretty frantic throughout. The programmed drums delivered the beats effectively however the live percussion was less successful. Of their own material, Turn To Rust with its samples of DJ Angry Bob from Richard Stanley's Hardware still comes to mind. The last song was an imaginative industrial reworking of Depeche Mode's Leave In Silence - the titular chorus yelled into the faces of a responsive crowd.
I Am Immune produce mostly horrible alt.rock with distinctive vocals - the sort of thing some MOR Aussie band mind have done in the early 1990s. The singer referred to it as electro rock, which seemed more like an attempt at convincing an audience expecting such things that this is what they were hearing, and less a statement of fact. This claim only seemed reasonable on Like A God and another that sounded faintly De/Vision-esque. Many songs started well enough, but after promising brief intros, nosedived into mediocrity - Entropy a prime example. This mainly due to the band members seemingly ranking rock star image above creative songwriting. The few good ideas they did have they'd largely borrowed. I remained immune.
Precisely the sort of act you hope to discover by chance, Berliners Warren Suicide (top left and right photos) were brilliant. They oozed early hours, underground cabaret chic, fusing beguiling charm and killer performance skills with clever, witty and complex songwriting. This eclectic looking three-piece are already the fully-formed real deal. The major point of reference I drew on was Chris Corner's IAMX. It's no coincidence that Corner has recently relocated from London to Berlin; between them, these two acts encapsulate everything that continues to justify Berlin's status as being the hip pinnacle of the global nightclub scene.
Front man Mr W. Suicide, around who the band was constructed, regaled us with wondrous tales of leaving their home town at 1am the day before, travelling to England on a ferry - where they had some nice fish and chips apparently - and thoughts of their impending seventeen hour drive back. Cutting an achingly cool figure and unmistakably a product of their uber cool German home town, Suicide's guitar skills spoke for themselves so we knew the inter-song strip tease from jacket and pencil thin tie down to bare chest wasn't a distraction technique. Multi-instrumentalist Cherie apparently provides the cute but dark graphics and animation used by the band. Whilst the unnamed percussionist was easily the single best drummer I'd seen live in ages. His natural ability to drive out pounding beats and mellifluous fills was as remarkable. It's just a shame that he is not a permanent member and remains unidentified. With faint echoes of 70s Bowie and 60s Velvet Underground at times, Warren Suicide instantly leap to the top position in DSO's 2008's Discovery Chart (beating Ulrich Schnauss and Marsheaux in the process).
32 Crash is Jean Lyc De Myer doing the mid-tempo post-industrial electronics he does so well. The project follows neatly on from De Myer's previous forays into vaguely similar territory with the likes of Cobalt 60, Cybertec and C-Tec. Having only listened to 32 Crash online so far, this was a great chance to sample the three piece who have already released one EP and one album (which I've yet to get my hands on). With De Myer's Front 242 having headlined the large scale, three-day Infest 2008 festival just a couple of weeks prior to this, it was surprising to me that without the ticket-shifting name of 242 attached tonight's show was relegated to the extremely modest Electrowerkz venue tucked behind Angel tube station.
"We are Three, Two Crash from Belgium" Myer said modestly - as if anyone left standing didn't know who this guy was. A guy who, in various guises since the late 70s, has been instrumental in defining an electronic industrial sound and exploring its outer regions and limits ever since. Though never entirely convincing as having a long-term future, what 32 Crash may occasionally lack in comparison to some of Myer's other outlets, is largely made up for in Myer and company's ability to tick the boxes of what a lot of tonight's audience had hoped to hear. All the expected characteristics of the genre combined with De Myer's often quirky approach to writing (Porcupine continues De Myer's long-running compulsion to pen songs about unusual animals!) ensured that 32 Crash would be welcomed back by most.
However, as much as 32 Crash delivered on their proposition, Warren Suicide were undoubtedly the real stars tonight. 8/10